Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Torture via Cambucha - more adventures of the texting kind

Kombucha is a fermented tea with floating bits in it.  Boything think's its brilliant.  I think its gross.  And more than a little creepy. 

 Boything:  true
on a completely different and unrelated note. I found out a way to grow a kombucha mother..the weird growth thingy needed to make kombucha
 me:  oh god
it'll eat me in my sleep
join forces with the cat
take over and grow on the walls
that stephen king story about the bad beer with the mold
that ate the guy
nonnononononono is not the best of brain days either, I'm noticing.
god damn it
Boything  thanks for reminding me that I will have to store it out of your reach.  I must allow it to grow big enough to stand up for its own
 Boything:  kom bu cha kom bu cha kom bu cha
Boything:  sounds like something you would hear in a horror movie
 me:  it IS
Boything and they call it a mother..meaning that it can have babies!!!!
 Boything:  but I have not started to grow one yet..and love it.. and nurture it.. and FEED IT!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Saga of Kitty

Boyfriend and the cat are arguing about his radio antennae. Cat ate it. Boyrfriend took it away. Cat is bitching about that. Boyfriend refuses to return the remaining two inches of wire out of the original ten, and is demanding to know what happened to the other eight. This will be the highlight of my evening.

"What did you DO with it?'


"Is it INSIDE you???"


"GODDAMN it, cat!"


"NO. I'm not giving it back!"

Boyfriend throws away the wire.  Two mintues later, it's back.

'You snuck it out of the trash!?  You little scumbag ."


I live in a cartoon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ood to a Grecian Urn

I painted this for a friend of mine, who's an obsessive fan.

Not necessarily of Dr. Who - he's kind of an amazing dude.  Once he becomes interested in a thing, he learns - nay memorizes - whatever aspects of that thing interest him.  He can name the Yankees players from  the inception of the team.  I'm always in awe of the sheer amount of information that's packed away in his brain.

I'm the idiot who introduced him to Dr. Who.  Within two days, he knew more, and could remember more details about the series than I ever could.  I'm always impressed when talking to him about anything.

He's also incredibly clever, with this vast well of knowledge. As we were rambling about tv shows (Dr. Who in particular) he said:

'You know what would be hilarious?  If someone painted 'Ood to a Grecian Urn'."

So I obliged.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Goals are important if you want to get where you want to be. To that end, I'm going to start posting one a week. My long term goal is to be an amazing illustrator. This winter's goals involve finishing my book and doing a stop motion project.
This week's goal is to finish a post production project, and my art class homework.
Tonight's goal: organize these files.
Tomorrow: get a magazine about dance and use it for my art class homework.

What is your long term goal? What are you doing this week to get there? Today?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Daddy Diaries

No, I'm not a dad myself.

As a creative working in an industry that more and more isn't (video), it gives me the hankering to do projects that are fun and meaningful to me.

Most of what I want to do is rather epic in scope, diametrically opposed to my out of pocket funding source.  I'd love to do great, dystopian science fiction; or huge fantasy creations.

What ends up happening though, is that I end up stymied by lack of funds and schedules of my other industry friends - who are great and more than willing to help, but likewise can't afford to work for a month on a free project, however they may like me personally.  It's okay, I understand.

While wracking my brain to come up with a project that I could do on my own and (unlike the stop motion) complete in a matter of days rather than months, I reconnected with an old college buddy.

Like many of my peers, he has a kid now.  (Where DOES the time go?)  His daughter is hilarious, and does the most amazing things.

I thought his stories were just too good not to share, so I am.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The need for paper

Hi guys.

I know I haven't posted in a while, my bad.  I can't think of anything really notable that's happened recently to talk about.

I should bring a notebook with me again.  For some reason, I thought the smartphone would replace ever needing paper notes.  For most things, like phone numbers and scheduling, this is true.

The weakness comes in that I'd stopped really writing down any ideas or amusing anecdotes that I came across.

I'd think, 'I bet the guys would like to hear about this one', and then promptly forget what was so interesting.

So,  I'm going back to paper.  Hopefully, new things will be more forthcoming.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Faerie path

Faerie path by digitalis_vitae
Faerie path, a photo by digitalis_vitae on Flickr.

After doing so many photos for other people, it becomes very liberating to just do a passion project.

Sometimes, it's better NOT to do the job

I've had a couple of rather peculiar situations that didn't work out this week, and it's probably for the best.  Figured that it might be useful to you guys to share them.

The most recent, was also the most confused.  I'm pretty sure I'd had nominal contact with this guy (we'll call him Fred, for the sake of the post, it is in no way his real name), exchange was pretty much, 'here's my stuff', responded to 'I like it, we'll be in touch'.  Okay, cool.

On Wednesday evening, I get an email with a strangely spelled title to the effect, 'can you shoot tomorrow?'. He could be on a mobile device, so I'm a bit more forgiving with word replacement/misspellings than I probably should be (with the good clients, this has honestly never been an issue - they take the time to communicate clearly).

The email was entirely empty.  I had no idea what time, place, equipment needed, anything - not even a rate. I send a couple emails asking all of these questions, finally getting a time, and approximate location.

(Location was stated as being by such and such statue.  A quick search on my part revealed it's location.  However, if you are running a job, rather than a geotagging game, providing an address or cross streets will do wonders for your credibility.)

I began to suspect this might not be the most lucrative, trouble free gig ever.  Because there's always pressure to keep getting gigs, I said yes anyway.  I'm not sure why - I have a week's worth of corporate photos to edit, and a solo show coming up very soon - but I said yes.

In the morning, I get another empty email asking for my phone number - which is in all of my contact information...

The phone call was a rushed, confused mishmash.  Fred was worried that I might not be able to handle the difficulty of his production needs (a single wireless lav and camera operation for a guerrilla performance in the street) and might want to use his regular guy.  He'll call me back in an hour.

Sure, whatever.  I edit more corporate photos from the lovely gig with great people - which was also last minute, but they managed to not only give me all the information needed, come up with a look, but also provide lunch.

No phone call.  Ah well, no big loss there.  I have one more set that I'd like to shoot for my solo show, and I'm running out of time, plus a thousand of these other photos to go through.  When SO (significant other) gets home from his normal job, I ask if he wants to go on this short hike and have dinner in the cute little town around it, making an evening out of it.  We do.

When I get home, there's an email from Fred.  From a few hours earlier.  Asking me if we can meet at 96th street instead, and go from there.   Not only did he never call back, this email was sent two and a half hours after his show (it was supposed to be a four hour gig total) was to have started.

Had I gone down at the appointed time in spite of the lack of communication, my whole shooting and editing day would have been killed.  I would have waited around for at least two hours before he even arrived.  And  no doubt been poorly micro managed.  The four hour gig would have been at least a full day at my end, including travel - bets that he'd pay for that?

I replied to the email politely, suggesting that he may have contacted me in error, as this couldn't be for the gig that he dropped me on.  I always try to be polite.  So far, no response.


The other one is just classic.  I do music videos.  Truthfully, I really like doing them, because the opportunity for creative outlet is huge, and short stories are just fun.  The rates for these are all over the map, mine included.  It depends on the flavor, how much is involved, etc.  I personally tend not to be cheap, because I refuse to do 'guy rapping in a series of unremarkable locations with poor lighting and framing with a fish eye effect slapped on'.

Artists deserve better.

Anyhow, the other phone call was from a woman who never gave me her name.

'I like your music videos.'

'Thank you!'

'I want one for me.'  (Full disclosure - at this point, I couldn't tell whether the voice on the other end was extremely tired, or very stoned.)

'Fantastic! Once we do the basic consultation and figure out what your needs are based on your budget, we can work up a contract, figure out a deposit, and get moving on the storyboards.  What genre of music are you, and what do you see your creative tastes and sensibilities as?'  (I do favorite visual artists, movies, etc, to plan a unique look for each piece.)

'Uh.  How much is a video?'

'That depends upon what the creative vision is, whether there's animation, or a lot of post effects.  For my full creative help (producer, director, dp, and post) the rate is usually X.  If you have other artists in mind, or friends who want to take on producing, dp, or post roles, then I can lower my rates.'

Silence.  A long silence.

'Gee, that's a lot.'

'It's a lot of work.  To do a project right, it's usually a month or two from pre through post production.'

'One day shoot?'

'Yes, for a one or two day shoot.  At least if you want a complicated, amazing looking result.  Sometimes longer, if there are a lot of effects or animation, as I mentioned before.'

More silence.  Enough that I wasn't sure if she was still on the line.

So I plunged in. 'If you pick a location, and just want me to show up and shoot it, and turn over the footage, we can do that too.'

'I want someone to do one like (names a stop motion video that I worked on for two months, with fully articulated custom puppets) in like a day for a hundred bucks.  Can you do that?'

'I wish!  That wouldn't cover the cost of materials for making one of the puppets, let alone labor time.  And the shooting alone took almost two months.  That project from pre viz through completion was closer to eight.'

'Someone can do it.'

'If you find them, do give me their number!  I'd love to hire them myself.  All the best of luck to you, and have a wonderful day.'

I'm pretty sure she was very, very stoned.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Day in the life of Ivan De Freelancer

I had originally written this as a frustrated facebook post, but enough people seemed amused that I decided to share it here.

There's an action game called Freelancer. I should make one.
Wake up. Check email. Send invoices from completed jobs. Check status on pending gigs. Go to mailbox. Open. Recieve junkmail. No check. Swear. 

Fuck off on the internet. Download new tutorials. Drool over new gear. Realize it isn't in the gear budget column. Handle three phone calls from the clueless, cheap, and really stone

Get cranky. Realize that coffee is needed. Brew coffee. Fix cup. Phone call from client you've been courting for a week. Could be promising. Hang up. Coffee is cold.

Design new business cards. Organize reciepts. Give up organizing receipts.

Rework business cards. Order cards.

Open fridge. Look at elderly styrofoam package. Go out for lunch.

Load old footage, intending to make reel. Grimace. Juggle clips for three hours, give up.

Get script for coverage in email. Start doing said coverage. Use bathroom. Get grossed out. Clean bathroom.

And so on.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm a horrible bloggerKowlon Walled City

I'm the worst schedule - er ever, and not so great at time management when I'm not working.

Job - show up 15 to 30 minutes early, coffee in hand, ready to face the day.

Home - Had a nightmare about bugs crawling out of my recesses, didn't get to sleep until three a.m.  (My previous nightmares were all about my teeth, but now that I've found a dentist, my lizard brain has found something else to torture me with. Yay?)

Planned on doing laundry.  It was a good plan.  Until I found this DIY photo hack website, and a German documentary about Kowloon city.

If you are not familiar with this place, do yourself a favor and Google it.  Around 30-50 thousand people, living in a .01 mile area, run by the Triad, which was(is?) the Hong Kong mafia.  I believe (haven't fact checked thoroughly) that this was the most dense population of any city block, possibly ever.  That's it, there. (It was destroyed in 1993, and a public park built in it's place.)

The place was built up and modified by it's residents to such a point that it became a maze of dark, dripping corridors, tiny apartments and businesses; rife with prostitution, drug use, and normal people living fairly normal lives.

You can see some of the rest of Hong Kong surrounding the area, a city which is fairly dense by typical urban standards.

Inside, this place looked kind of like a cyber punk acid trip.

Here's a view from the top:

As you might imagine, the only light hitting the lower levels and most of the streets were artificial.  I get lost just thinking about trying to find my way around that insanity.

People are amazing though - besides the 'soft' crimes, most citizens here worked, lived, ran tiny businesses (footage wise), just like any other place.

Originally, the site was an army base.  In the documentary, people ignore an old cannon left in the middle of one of the built up alleys as they walk by.  There were bits and pieces of the old base left to be built upon.  One of the wildest though (to me anyway) is the space and reverence given to this temple:

One of the few places that seemed to still get natural light while on the ground floor.

So, that's what I did instead of laundry yesterday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sorry, I've been busy.

A great deal of interesting stuff has been going on - when I get a moment to breathe, I'll share.

Most amusing moment of the past few weeks -

I did the lighting design for a one man show for NYC Pride week.  Great show.  Crashed with a couple of wonderful people rather than make an impossible commute.  A lovely guy and I shared the bed - completely innocent, I assure you.

The next morning, he makes me coffee and says:

'Oh my God! I have to call my husband and tell him I slept with a WOMAN!! AAAAAAH!!!'

Dammit, that was my last clean tee shirt.  I spent the rest of the day with snarfed coffee stains on my chest.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rachael Saltzman

Rachael Saltzman: Click "Collect Me" to help me win $10,000 and a show in the most immense exhibition of art in New York City : Art Takes Times Square.

So, I entered this photo competition in the hopes of...fame? Fortune?  Some new glass (lenses) would be great.  If you're so inclined, 'collect' my work and vote me up.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Best Spam Ever


So Tupac is totally offering complimentary psychic readings.  This is the only part of the picture that would copy from the email.

Boyfriend gets the most awesome spam.  He tells me that Tupac is offering free psychic readings - which is especially cool because he's like dead and stuff, so he'd TOTALLY have the DL on that whole afterlife connection thing. Right?

And the first one is FREE  - I'm not sure how that works.  What sort of currency do the dead use, anyway? The email was pretty vague on the details.  Like vampires would probably take blood, zombies brains, but the message was very unclear about what souls would use.

Me:  OMG - we can finally find out who really shot Biggie Smalls!

Boyfriend: ...

Me: You should do it! It's like one free question.  And look at the little glowing souls in black misty tulips! That's how you know it's totally legit.

Boyfriend: Except it's not really Tupac.

Me: (looking over) Wait.  That's a white dude.  With a beard.

Boyfriend: And he spells his name with a 'k'.

Me: I bet he's not really dead.

Boyfriend: Probably not.

Me:  He probably never rapped a day in his life.

Boyfriend: (Who is now playing video games and pretty much ignoring me.) 'Hmmm?'

Me:  I bet this is a total rip off.  Even for free.  I was totally going to pay in blood or fingernails or whatever it is that souls use as currency, but I think this guy is alive.  That's not interesting at all.

Then I asked him to forward the spam so I could share it.  I never get cool spam like this.  Lots of stuff for longer erections and a bigger penis.  Sometimes I reply.  According to Boyfriend, I have really big balls anyway, and don't really need help getting them any bigger.

What I don't have is the direct line to the soul of Tupac.  Blast you, spam.  Denied again.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Everyone say hi to Soccoro!

Hi, new buddy!  I wanted to PM you a welcome, but failed miserably.

Either I'm just missing some key element of this friend connect window, or computers are mass conspiring against me in order to make me feel like a complete dolt.

I'm pretty sure mine gives me the raspberry every time my back is turned.  So hey there, welcome to my irreverent, often silly, occasionally (hopefully) educational little corner of cyberspace.  There's virtual cake, please help yourself.

I hope you enjoy your visit!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lighting basics #1

So, I made the first in (hopefully) a series of tutorials about the basics of lighting and photography/video.  Now, I'm stumped on what to do next.  There are too many options.  So I'm asking you guys - what should be next?

What I learned from playing Skyrim

It's easy to rule the world when everyone else is too lazy.

Your character is the obligatory 'chosen one', wandering around, saving the universe, blah blah blah.  Upon reaching each new location, talking to the NPC (non player characters, for those who don't game) open up all kinds of new quests.  Some are exploration, some to find a mythical item, the usual.

So you tromp out to the far reaches of the known world in search of whatever it was for whoever needs it, and it occurred to me - any one of these characters could go out and do the same thing, find their own damn missing harp/shield/cereal bowl, and gain the powers and riches associated with whatever it is.

So why don't they?

Most of the characters have a pretty believable backstory, so they own a business/have a family/new obligations so they can't go gallivanting all over creation.  But others?  The only good reason I can see that they haven't gone off to find item x their damn selves, is that they're just too lazy.

Kinda reminds me of real life.  'I would/could do x, but I have (insert excuse here).'

Travelling merchants are often idiots.  

Wander around enough, and you'll find tons of destroyed carts and dead people near giants' lairs, in underground tunnels full of monsters - and an obligatory diary saying basically, 'we thought this would be a shortcut'.

Life lesson:  that 'shortcut' might not be such a good idea.

Vacation spots are not always as described in the brochure.

Likewise, you can find families and adventurers dead at the mouths of caves and stuff, with the convenient diary hinting at what you're in for.

One such place was marked on my map as 'Bottomless Pit of Shadows'.  There were (gasp!) monsters inside.

What were they thinking!?

All I can imagine is this couple in Essex:

'Ooh, 'Enry!' (Yes, I'm picturing one of the Pythons in drag.) 'Look what just came in the post! 'Miserable Pit of Unrelenting Doom!'

Noncommittal grunting, from the late middle aged man reading his paper in a horridly upholstered easy chair.

'Doesn't that just sound lovely?  'Aving a special right now!  Two for one 'oliday package, free hour in the torture room/spa!'


'We haven't gone on 'oliday since 'Mount Decrepit of Insuffrable Damnation' with Alice and Roger.  Remember those slide shows?  A pity about the Ice Toothed Hellhound, though...'


The other one was a great piece of storytelling, and pretty heart wrenching.  (Spoilers!)

There's a lighthouse that looks like the wrong side of a Saw movie inside.  When you follow the story, a family moved there, only to be kidnapped and butchered by the monsters in the basement.

Life lessons:  Names mean something, and always get a neutral party to appraise real estate.

There is one other smart adventurer in the whole game.  He has no name, and you meet him once.

I can't remember the name of the place I found him.  He greets you near the entrance to yet another cave and says something to the effect:

'Watch out, dude.  I'm a pretty hardcore adventurer, but it's harsh in there.  I can take spiders like the best of em, but FIRE BREATHING spiders?  Screw that, I'm out.'

life lesson:  Forewarned is forearmed.  Don't ignore good advice.  Or be ready to stick your head in a bucket when a spider sets it on fire.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Failure to Communicate #1

I just worked 40 hours in two days.  While this isn't unusual, it leads to conversations like this.

Boyfriend: 'I unplugged the toilet.'

O.o ????

The toilet has no electrics.  We live in a rental, why did you remove the toilet from the wall?! I'm having visions of grey water all over our second floor apartment, and he's sitting watching anime perfectly calmly.  I start having a babbling, confused fit.

He watches, face ever so carefully neutral, eyes shining. 'The toilet was clogged.  I unplugged it.'

OH. RIGHT.  When overtired, I forget that many words have more than one meaning.

I go to make use of our pristine, functioning bathroom, gales of laughter following in my wake.

'My girl is special.'

Yup.  That's me.  'Special' is a great word.  So many inferences.

I'm just glad the toilet works.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I have a anti super hero alter ego

I bet you do, as well.  My inner super hero is not so super.  I call mine Captain Spaz.

This morning, CS freaked about going to the accountant, parked the car three different times because ... actually, I still can't figure out why the first two weren't good enough.

Usually, Captain Spaz is fairly under control.  Taxes always get us going though - not that I've ever had a real reason for concern.

Between that, my computer expressing its continued dominion over the sad, foolish meat thing that keeps trying to trick it into running software, and other fun stuff, my anti hero has been running strong.

Captain Spaz is the part of my brain that insists on losing my keys, phone, wallet, shoes, and the bits of assurance that go along with knowing where the aforementioned items make their domain.

Who is your inner anti super hero? 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Branding yourself as a freelancer - this wins for useless phrase of the day.

"Brand Yourself", "Building Brand Loyalty as a Freelancer", or '"How Someone who Knows Almost Nothing Can Get Money From Your Wallet"

As you might have noticed, this particular trend is giving me virtual hives right now.  With the current economy showing no signs of reverting back to the 'work for the same company for 30 years and retire with a pension' universe,  freelancers are popping up like mushrooms.

There are a bunch of reasons for this.  Some people are just sick of their company policies, or want to take on more interesting work.  Some people are frustrated with being unemployed/underemployed, and want to strike out on a venture of their own.  Others just think it sounds cool. (Yep, as I fill out invoices and chase non paying clients, negotiate rates, worry about the reel that I swear I'll cut one of these days, there's a friend of mine, somewhere, thinking that my job must be easier than what they're doing.)

None of these is a bad reason to think about freelancing.  Jumping straight in from that random thought, however, is not the best idea on earth. Beyond figuring out what sort of business you are/want to be, the overhead, what tools you need, an honest assessment of your skillset in area x, there are the vultures.

Vultures, you say?  What defines a freelancer vulture, to me, is someone with no definable track record or skillset suddenly marketing themselves as a 'branding expert' or 'social media guru'.  (Other terms to watch out for - guru, ninja, maven, rockstar.)  As soon as this person hangs their sign, they'll start offering classes and workshops.  If you're lucky, they're reading all of the same 'how to' blogs and sites that you are (which are available for free, by the way).  If not, they have less of an idea how to do this than you do.  But man, they'll have those buzzwords down pat.  It's like paying to sit through that corporate meeting with the marketing dept. spitting out words that used to have defined meanings, but now, all they do is make you late for lunch.

Not everyone offering a workshop is a vulture.  Do your homework on them - what have they accomplished in the field that they're talking about?  If there's no track record, no specifics, don't waste your time or money.
Something like 'took company x from 10k a year to 100k a year through repackaging website and optimizing SEO' is real.  'SEO guru and expert to help with your needs' is not.

Do you even need a 'brand'?

Most of these freelance sites say yes, this is the most important thing.

I say - it depends.

Are you selling a physical object - jewelry, clothing, et al.?  Then yes.  People are suckers for packaging.  And your clientele depends upon the look of your logo, shop (virtual or real), and name to get a quick idea of whether your product is for them.   A Goth shop specializing in silver skull jewelry is not going to look the same as someone selling English tatting tea cozies.  If your item is similar enough to other products, here's where it may be worth hiring a brand expert to help you find a unique twist to your work.

Me?  I don't have a brand.  I'm a service.  Many companies who do production have a specific look or feel to their site and their work - which is totally fine.  I suspect mine is growing more organically.  The question is - 'do I NEED to brand?'

I never did.  Would I have gotten further, faster?  Hard to say.  I get very little work through strangers.  Building my network over the years is responsible for at least 95% of my work.  I don't really have an online presence.  Then again, I don't really do quick marketing videos for startup web companies either.  I don't generally do weddings.

The difference here, I think, is who my client is.  Mine tends to be people that I've met on other jobs, have seen what I can do, and want me to work with them again, or on something they're creating.  My clientele is not usually the general public.  Of the gigs I've gotten from complete strangers, there are only two (maybe three) important things.

1. Do we click during the interview.

2. Samples of my work.  (I will do a reel, eventually.  I promise.)  They need to see that I can actually do what I said I would.

3. Will I work for the listed rate.

Notice, I have a narrow niche (features, docs, music videos) for the most part.  I have done commercials, industrials, etc - and am usually hired by the company producing that product.  And of course, reality shows. I think most people have done work at least related to one in the last few years.

Artists brand themselves naturally through the progression of their work and interests.  Usually, a very simple website with their name, contact info, portfolio, and bio is all they need.  This is branding, sure.  It is also pretty simple stuff that you can do yourself.

You have to decide for yourself whether networking parties, workshops, et al. are right for you.  And be picky about the ones you take.  Or you could find yourself spending thousands on information that's freely available, or worse, no information at all.

This is one of the best blogs I've found that covers general freelancing, and has articles available for artists, writers, finances, you name it.

All that takes, is your time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stories of glamour - overnight in Central Park

Another request I got was for stories 'from the front', as it were.

I apologize in advance for not making much sense here - I've been up for a few days.  (How's that for a glamorous example of what working in film and theater is like?)

One of my least favorite aspects is often dealing with weather.

In this case, setting up and tearing down a fashion show in Central Park in February.  It was 20 degrees.  The first day, I wore two sets of long underwear under jeans.  Wind tore right through all of it - I felt like I had forgotten to put on pants at all.

So I went out and bought a pair of waterproof snow pants instead of sleeping.

We did an overnight, outdoors, in 20 degree weather.  The drinking water was slush, it snowed, the cables were frozen, and I got windburn.  Ahhh, showbiz.  Highlights of the evening included sophomoric commentary about frozen cables (you could hold them out up to four feet from your body, and they'd be straight and stiff - not good for one inch diameter electrical cable, but great for dick jokes) and deconstructing Chapterhouse Dune while waiting for a truck to arrive.

So, that's a reality around fashion week.  40 hours of labor in two days for a 13 minute show that's probably been forgotten by now.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The only funny story mentioning Auschwitz that I know

A friend of mine's grandmother is a survivor.  She's an amazing, tough little lady.

Who is not very fond of her son in law.  He complains, often, about anything you could imagine.

When he complains, she often compares the minor troubles of making a life in the US to the hardships she went through, indicating that he should probably man up and deal.

One day, he had the following outburst.

"Auschwitz, Auschwitz, Auschwitz!  I get it already!  Just because it's not as bad, doesn't mean our problems aren't real.  I'm sick of hearing about the damned camp!"

She drew herself up to her entire four foot nine frame, wagged a bony finger in his face and said: 'I survived Auschwitz.  I survived torture.  I survived starvation."

"But I ain't gonna survive YOU!"

Best argument ender EVER.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I didn't blog Monday, but I have an excuse!

Excuse as follows - I was in the office of my favorite producer re-editing reality show sizzle reels.  Fingers crossed that we hook one.  We've had a great deal of passing interest, but so far no solid bites.  Sigh.

The other thing I've been up to (besides brain eating headaches and uselessness inducing insomnia) is researching how to write a grant proposal.  Conclusion: writing a proposal is a whole lot like writing a book report.  I feel like I'm back in third grade.

The scary bits are the other research.  Or frustrating.  Yeah, frustrating.  Finding what grants you may or may not be eligible for, and the pages of criteria are farking daunting. (Farking is not a real word.  But I'm using it anyway.)

My adventures searching for a real grant writer to do this instead were...interesting.  The big guns were either way too expensive (yeah, the really good ones charge up front fees that make me question my career choices), or far more interested in broader social issues projects.

The smaller guns were mostly useless.  They ranged from people who had never gotten funding/never written a proposal but they got an A in high school English class, to people who's correspondence was so mind blowingly awful that I wondered if they could write their own names correctly within three tries.  And yes, the ones that couldn't spell or construct a sentence wanted money.  Some of them, a lot of money.  I do wonder if they get it.  More likely, someone told them what a great writer they were in an elementary school class some time ago, and they have a huge reality disconnect.

So fuck it.  I'm doing the grant proposals myself.  At least I can write my own name.  And I got straight Os on those third grade book reports.  So I'm hoping that something I did in elementary school will have a direct correlation to something I'm doing $^#%$% years later.  (That one is a word.  Just not one I care to share.)

Some of the following posts will be my continuing adventures in grant proposals, how my kitty mood swings from adorable to incredible asshole in seconds, and how I still don't want to wear pants. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I don't edit or proofread these blogs.

Every work of fiction, every piece of text you expect an audience to pay for should have an editor.  Not just your mother/cousin/English teacher, but a bone fide, knows-what-they're-doing, kick butt editor.

That said, I don't even proofread this blog for errors.  Let completely alone edit for content, or logic.

That may seem horribly lazy or counterproductive, or a thousand other negative things, and you're probably right.

This is why:  I have the most evil inner editor on Earth.

Every writer has one; that little person living in your head that makes you go back and check the spelling, polish your dialogue until it gleams, questions whether or not the chosen word is just right for the situation or not.  Usually, this creature is not a bad thing.

Mine is a hellion.  A dominatrix with six inch steel blade heels that will settle for no less than absolute perfection in my fiction.  That will have me reading the entire dictionary and thesaurus for the absolute right word - no exceptions or substitutions allowed.

This is a bad thing.  She is not quiet as I write the first draft of anything.  Rather, she stands behind me, one flashing silvery heel buried in my shoulder, and twists every time I mistype a word, wonder about spelling, or can't think of that perfect adjective.  The slightest interruption?  My fragile bubble of writing is shattered like crystal on concrete, and no amount of yelling or meditation will get it back.  The rest of my writing for the day is shot.  I've kept going after that break.  That infuriating distraction that no normal person can understand, where the page has vanished, my characters cavort around me, and words flow like champagne.

At those times, I write words that are sometimes so beautiful that I can't believe they came from me.  The words outside of inspiration are insipid pap, bland soldiers plodding along through the waist deep muck of mediocrity.  It happened just now.  I try not to snap, because it makes me seem mad.  In both senses.  Perhaps I am.

I don't edit or proof these for two reasons. The first, is that this blog is a conscious effort to try and get that inner editor to shut the hell up for a while so I can produce, rather than spending three days building, tearing down, and reconstructing the perfect paragraph.  That is not an exaggeration.  This bitch is evil.

The second, is my lack of confidence with my own writing, which has to do with the inner editor.  That's why she's so strong, of course.  She wants me to make sure that each of these posts is pristine.  Perfect and error free.  As a human, there is no such thing.  Therefore, if left to her devices, I would never even finish these posts.  There would be no blog,  I would just keep revising forever.

I do hope, that as I continue this daily exercise, I shall be able to use what I've learned here in my fiction writing.  And hopefully be able to work through those well meant interruptions without flying into a frustration induced mini rage.  (Non well meant interruptions are exempt - I can still get pissed off about them.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

I feel like a failure, and quantum physics of light (as per request)

My illustration class, that I'd worked myself up into a tizzy over, has be cancelled due to low registration.  I can't express how disappointed I am about this - but that is not going to make for a fun or interesting blog.  Hadn't been back to school in years, and feeling the creative rut and winter blahs.

And the weevil headache.  Still.  With any luck, it'll consume the pain centers of my brain and I won't have to feel it soon.

My buddy Shadoe requested a post relating quantum physics to lighting on set, which is a great poser.  (I could have taken the easy way out - FireSign Theater - but why start now?)

The allegories are probably going to be tenuous at best, but I'll give this a go.  Might as well start with a mini science lesson.  This is all really basic layman stuff, so feel free to skip it if I'm boring.

Quantum mechanics is fun science for the geektastic laymen like myself because its a relatively new set of studies, and some of the mysteries are intriguing.  I won't pretend to understand the majority of the math (never got past Calc III - I warned you that I'm not that sharp), but we can hit some of the basics.

What is a quanta, anyway?

A 'quanta' in layman's terms (the ones I can understand) are basically the minimum amount of physical interaction of any particle.  For quantum mechanics, this usually refers to the energy of an electron - the teeny particles that whirligig on the outside of an atom.

Metaphorically, this could relate to the amount that I care about a film after running a 16 hour day when production refuses to provide a second meal.

In actuality, I only deal with this at the most rudimentary of levels as an electrician.  While I don't think about this much on set, electricity is, at it's most basic level, the effect of excited free electrons attracting and repelling each other - induced by agitating them through some other power source, typically a generator.  Couloumb's law,  the Leyden jar, all that fun stuff, if you want to dig deeper.   When on set, I'm much more concerned about balancing power and voltage drops, so this is kind of fun for me to write about (thanks Shadoe!).

Ahem, moving on.

For the purposes of this post, let's skip Planck and head right to Einstein. (Planck was more about thermal transfers and radiation, rather than the next theory, that relates more.)

The great light wave/particle weirdness (not really a debate) kind of starts with the discovery of photons.  A photon is like a single, teeny packet of light.

This again, isn't something we think about much on set, but if electricity didn't work this way, we wouldn't have lightbulbs. Thank Heinrich Hertz, who discovered that you could get light from metal. Light bulbs were being developed all over the world before this, but I feel like it was Hertz and Lenard, who came up with the fact that frequency of emission, rather than intensity being responsible for light emission, helped make the lightbulb a practical invention rather than an interesting novelty that both ate tons of power and was hot enough to melt your face off if you got too close.

I'm tangenting again, sorry.

Anyhow.  A dude named Louis de Broglie grabbed onto that wave/particle debate, and ran with it.  While light is a series of particles, those particles behave like a wave.  Without that, we wouldn't have diffraction (the way light can bend, as well as split into colors) and lighting tools would probably be very different than they are.  Lenses like Fresnels, for example, wouldn't 'soften' a beam the way they do, and a great many other tools like gels just wouldn't function in the same way.  While learning the theory doesn't change how light works, it does give us a greater understanding of how to manipulate light, and methods for developing new tools, or fashioning low rent versions of existing ones.

If light didn't bend, for example, reflectors wouldn't work.

Another tool that takes advantage of the wave theory is called a cookaloris, or cookie.  (I don't know where the name comes from, and haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer.)  This is a solid piece of material - usually wooden or metal for those with a budget, I've made them from cardboard - that creates shapes when placed in front of a light.  One of the most interesting details of these, is how you can 'focus' them.  The farther they are from a light source, the clearer and sharper the edges of the shape.  Closer, and you get a softer, less dense shadow with fuzzier edges.

This can be explained with the double slit experiment, performed by Thomas Young and Augustin Fresnel (eh? eh?  There he is!  In case you were wondering where the Fresnel lens came from) in 1827.  You can read up in detail on your own - basically, they discovered a diffraction pattern in light waves when objects (in this case, walls with slits) were placed in front of an object.  More objects also create further diffusion, resulting in layers of harder and softer shadows.  I use this sort of thing all the time at work.

Honestly, Shroedinger and Heisenberg's principles, interesting as they are, can only come into play in the most metaphorical of senses when talking about film lighting.  Mostly the effect that I don't know whether or not this next gig will suck giant donkey balls until I get there or not.  Ahh, uncertainty and the cat in the box applied to freelancing.

Wave function collapse, on the other hand, is integral to making light look the way it does.  As a light wave travels through the air, those teeny particles encounter resistance.  That resistance causes the wave function to collapse and the particles to disperse, meaning the light doesn't go on forever.  In industry lighting, we call that 'fall off', basically where the cast light begins to dim, and finally disperses completely.  Without this happening, we couldn't create dramatic scenes with high intensity key lights and deep shadows.

Some of the other things, like electrical fields, are practically important for safety reasons - like not starting fires and electrocuting actors and co workers.  While you don't have to understand the deeper math involved, having a basic understanding of how electricity works helps ensure the safety of the set.

A quick example would be that using a carrier (most typically an extension cord) that's too small for the voltage draw can start a fire.  Instead of those excited particles running all the way to the lighting unit, they 'flood' the carrier, escaping in the form of heat.  Too much of that, and you can melt the cable, or your co worker.

So, that's my attempt to relate quantum physics theory with practical, on set use.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So I'm trying to blog every day

And this is the beginning of the attempt.  I've opened this page with absolutely no idea of what I'm going to write about, so it'll be a bit stream of consciousness (that's the highbrow phrase for 'I don't know what to say so I'm just going to babble a bunch of random shit and post it').

My big fear is that I'm not that interesting, and I don't have that much to talk about.  What could I possibly do or say every day to keep you guys entertained for five minutes?  Back when I used to babysit, it was much easier - I had kids who were into one thing, and could be entertained for weeks with the same video tape.

...this is going well...

Anyway, things on my mind right now.

I'm taking an illustration course at SVA this semester.  Its been about a decade since I was in school, so I was nervous about that.  Currently, not having a list of needed supplies, not knowing if I can afford them, is taking a back seat to the fact that the school hasn't scheduled a room for the class yet, so I have no idea where I'm going on Monday.

Yeah, the class starts in four days, and I don't know WHERE.  WTF.  I'd forgotten about that particular bit of college joy over the years.  I'm remembering it now.  Hoo boy, am I ever.  I'm the kind of person who wants all that information the week before.

The hot water in my building isn't currently working, so I can't have a shower.  This has not happened here before.  Not fun.  I am also not the sort of person who loves exhilarating plunges into crystalline mountain streams while some invisible dude yodels into brisk mountain air.  First, that shit is COLD.  Second, who the hell is that creepy yodeling dude?  I don't want him looking at me.  What if he's actually invisible, and not just over the next mountain range?  Invisible yodeling creepers are way scarier than the garden variety kid at the end of the block with binoculars.

This is why I shouldn't watch regular tv.  The commercials are way too scary.

I've had a headache for three days straight.  Which sucks.  And I try not to whine about it, but trying to get any proper fiction type writing done while there's a weevil behind your right ear trying to bore into your innocent, unprotected brain matter is nigh impossible.  Then I have guilt and anxiety about not getting anything done, plus a brain weevil.


What do you guys want me to write about?  I've written about writing, photography, film, life on set, and personal junk; cool stuff I find, and stuff that just annoys me.  What do you like to read about the most?  I'll try to do more of that.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh %&$^, where do I live again?

This happens to me every time I have to fill out a form.

Over the summer, Boyfriend and I celebrated not having to move from the glorious apartment that we found last August.  It was a big deal for both of us.  Since we've lived together, we moved every single year.  I moved around a lot before that.

Still trying to wrap my head around the idea of 'home' and setting up a space.  The first two or three places that I moved into after college, my roommates and I would fix up and decorate, only to have it then sold out from underneath us, or an unscrupulous landlord suddenly jack the rent up by double.

Now that I'm thinking about, I've probably moved at least once a year every year since 1998.  Holy crap.  Didn't really do the math until now.  That equals roughly a fuckton of different living spaces; some with roommates, some not; some houses, some apartments;  everything from what felt like a timeshare on part of a bathroom in Manhattan, to a five or six bedroom Victorian house with one of those octagonal side-tower deals.

It makes a little more sense now, that I've been having trouble settling in and making any big home purchases.

The other problem, is that I often forget where I live.

Not the actual place, per se.  But the addresses meld together into taffy like amalgams of actual places in my brain, leading mail to end up at places I lived at three years ago, addresses I've never been to, or best, places that don't actually exist.  I'll put the street number of one place, the street name of another, and a zip code of a third (or a zip code misremembered or dislexified so that it doesn't exist at all).

I had that happen again this morning, as I was signing up for a class that I can't really afford, but more importantly, can't afford not to take any longer.

Its a weird, sinking feeling, when you try to fill out the address lines on the form, and can't remember what they are. (Though not as bad as realizing that you've just written alpha numeric pudding of several different ones, and have to ask HR for the paperwork back because you've just managed to screw up your own address...)

I messaged Boyfriend in a panic.  'WHERE DO I LIVE? AAAAAAGGGGH!'

He hasn't responded yet.  Maybe he thinks I'm screwing with him.  I would, but this time its serious.  I was looking around for mail, but I was actually trying to be productive this morning and do some cleaning, so I threw out all the junk mail.

Let this be a lesson - never clean the house, because then you won't know where you live.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The 'I'm still five' edition, where I have a case of the 'why'.

First of all, happy New Year, everybody!

Boyfriend has the day off, so we made grand plans to do some major housecleaning.

Umm, yeah.  As of four p.m. today, we have assembled the last of the new bookshelves (more on that tomorrow), extracted six cases of books, and watched an episode of Dr. Who.  All while still in our pajamas.  Because that's how we roll on days off - gnarly and unshowered, ready for an emergency nap attack.  Which totally happens.

Anyway, I'm craving chocolate cake.  Knowing that any bakery worth going to is probably closed today comes second to the distasteful idea of having to take a shower and actually get dressed.  But we do have cake mix. WOOOO.

(Yes, I do understand the logic gap in laziness that requires me to bake rather than put on pants.  Its just one of those things.)

There's this recipe for rum scotch cake that I absolutely love.  Its super dense, moist, chocolately nirvana.  If anyone wants to try it:

I don't bother with the glaze or the nuts - who puts nuts in chocolate cake?  You put more chocolate. Duh.  I'm out of chips, but I do have a chocolate bar that I'm willing to sacrifice for the cause.  What I do not have, is instant pudding mix.

In the interest of 'no pants Monday', I've started a search about what in the pudding mix is so important to the cake.  Apparently, it makes the cake more moist.  But no one seems interested in WHY.  So far, I've spent about an hour on research trying to figure out what it is that makes this ingredient so magical.  So far, its either saltpeter or animal bones, or some other archaic ingredient that I don't really understand.  Boyfriend thinks we should just suck it up and get dressed.  I totally think we should try making saltpeter in the kitchen, which he says doesn't even go in food.  Whatever.

Boyfriend says we'll blow up the kitchen.  I still think that beats putting on pants, but I think I'm going to get outvoted. The cat is usually neutral, but boyfriend is bigger than I am.

Maybe I'll just go to the grocery store in my pajamas.  They're all festive, with champagne glasses and confetti on them - totally in the spirit of the day.  And it will still be No Pants Monday.  I win.